Stay

 

sillage (n.) the scent that lingers in the air, the trail left in the water, the impression made in space after something or someone has been and gone; the trace of someone’s perfume

 

Darkness filled the apartment when Jessica unlocked the door. She reached for the switches next to the main door and turned the lights in the living room on. She kicked off her heels as she walked in large strides towards the master bedroom.

 

After pulling out her clothes from the drawer, Jessica heard Taeyeon shuffling in bed. Taeyeon peeked from underneath the blanket upon hearing someone entering the bedroom.

 

“You’re home,” Taeyeon said sleepily. She picked up the alarm clock and saw the green digits 2:09am staring back at her.

 

“Ya,” Jessica said softly. She walked towards Taeyeon, bended down, cupped Taeyeon’s cheeks with her hands. Then she kissed the sleepy woman fully on the lips. However, Jessica felt Taeyeon putting her hands on her chest and pushing her away.

 

“You smell of alcohol…again,” Taeyeon said slowly, turned off by the stench of distilled spirits. It wasn’t the first time Jessica had returned home late, smelling of smoke and alcohol. It was a smell Taeyeon detested. Each time the pungent smell of alcohol reached her nostrils, images of Jessica ‘entertaining’ her clients would flood her mind, causing her to clench her fists and making her heart ache.

 

“It’s work, I can’t help it. It’s not like I’m having alot of fun. Entertaining is very draining, both physically and mentally. I told you this many times already,” Jessica spoke. She stepped backwards, arms akimbo and felt frustrated.

 

“Why is it always you? I don’t see Yoona going for drinks almost every night,” Taeyeon snapped. She was wide awake now, feeling anger building up in her stomach.

 

“I can’t believe I have to go through this again. Taeyeon, I’m doing this for my future, our future. Don’t you get it??”

 

“Sica, we hardly talk to each other nowadays. And when we do, we’re always raising our voices at each other.” Taeyeon was crestfallen. She gripped the hems of her blanket, trying to stop tears from falling.

 

Jessica let out a long sigh. A year ago, there was a position in the top management that was up for grabs to the most capable employee. Jessica had been working very hard, trying to vie for that position among her colleagues. Her arch rival, Hara was a fierce competitor for the throne. Both of them had been trying to outshine each other in terms of work performance.

 

Jessica couldn’t understand why Taeyeon couldn’t understand why she was working so hard. She merely wanted to provide a better life for the both of them, knowing Taeyeon’s meager pay and lack of career growth in her company.

 

Taeyeon didn’t want to argue anymore, knowing it was pointless to do so. “It’s late. Shower and sleep soon.”

 

That was how they always ended their arguments. Taeyeon would rather keep her anger within herself and remain silent. Initially they did try to talk it out but it never ended well. As time went on, Taeyeon learnt that she should keep her mouth shut if she wanted to salvage the relationship. Gradually, a wall was built between them.

 

~*~*~*~

 

“Taeyeon!”

 

Taeyeon froze in her tracks upon hearing a familiar voice calling out to her. She slowly turned around and met her ex-girlfriend face to face.

 

“Sica…”

 

“Sunny told me you’re leaving for Australia. Is that true?” Jessica called out.

 

Taeyeon nodded. “I’ve applied for a job in Melbourne as a Korean language teacher and got selected.”

 

“Do you really have to go? Go…so far away?” Jessica asked, half pleading.

 

A taxi pulled up at the side of the road. Taeyeon waved to the driver before pointing to herself and the luggage that was beside her.

 

Another nod from Taeyeon.

 

“Yes. Please take care of your health. Goodbye Sica.”

 

The driver got out and helped Taeyeon put her luggage into the boot before he got back into the taxi. Just as Taeyeon opened the door of the taxi, she felt a strong tug at her other arm. It was Jessica.

 

“Taeyeon ah, I love you. Please stay.” Tears were welling up in Jessica’s eyes.

 

“I can’t. You know I can’t.” Taeyeon struggled to keep a straight voice. Her heart, on the other hand, softened when she heard those three words she hadn’t heard in months. It was also heartbreaking to see the person she used to love and still did on the verge of tears.

 

“You’re right. Life isn’t all about material comforts. When you were gone, I thought about the times we used to share and realised how much I missed you. When I was cooking noodles in the kitchen, I was reminded of the times you made dinner for me. When I was shopping for groceries, I imagined having you beside me and fooling around in the supermarket. You were such an integral part of my life and I was stupid for neglecting you in my paper chase. I’m willing to give up on that position in exchange for you. You are more important than anything else in my life.”

 

“It’s too late.” Taeyeon shook her arm, freeing herself from Jessica’s grasp.  Then Taeyeon quickly turned away and bent her head to enter the taxi.

 

“It’s never too late. Please give me, no, give us, another chance.” A single tear rolled down Jessica’s cheek.

 

Taeyeon looked away, trying to avoid direct eye contact. She knew she had to stay firm.

 

“Stay.” A firm yet pleading request. “Please.”

 

Taeyeon remained still. Half her body was already inside the taxi. She took a deep breath and exhaled before exiting the taxi again. She watched the teary-eyed person standing in front of her.

 

“Sica, I really need to g-” Taeyeon’s reply was interrupted by a sudden kiss who took her by surprise. The feeling of the familiar pair of lips on her own caused her heart to flutter and it reminded her of their first kiss. Jessica wrapped her arms around Taeyeon’s back and held the latter tightly.

 

“Excuse me,” the taxi driver interrupted. “Are you getting in or not?”

 

Jessica broke apart from Taeyeon, her heart pounding hard in anticipation of the latter’s answer.

 

Taeyeon looked at Jessica, turned her head to the taxi driver and finally back to Jessica. There was an unreadable expression on her face.

 

“Yes, I’m coming. Sorry for the wait,” came an apologetic reply.

 

Taeyeon got into the taxi, leaving Jessica standing alone at the sidewalk as the taxi drove off.

 

As the taxi disappeared into the distance, Jessica’s legs turned jelly and she collapsed onto the concrete ground, burying her face with her hands. Her tears flowed like a dam that burst open. She didn’t care about what the passers-by would think of a woman wailing on the side of the street. Her heart felt like it was ripped apart and trampled upon the moment Taeyeon closed the taxi door.

 

While she was crying her heart out, Jessica heard something heavy drop in front of her. She slowly lifted her head up and saw a black luggage in front of her. A figure stood in front of her and knelt down.

 

Through her watery eyes, Jessica saw the face of the woman. She was in disbelief when she saw Taeyeon wrapping her arms around her body and pulling her close.

 

Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden. The familiar oceanic scent filled Jessica’s nose.

 

“I’ll stay. I’m not going anywhere,” Taeyeon reassured, stroking Jessica’s back. She felt Jessica’s tears soaking the blouse she was wearing.

 

“Th-thank you f-for giving us another ch-chance,” Jessica said between sobs.

 

Taeyeon held Jessica by her shoulders and watched the crying girl. She used her thumb to wipe the tears that were cascading down Jessica’s cheeks. Taeyeon’s heart ached and she vowed never to let Jessica cry again because of her.

 

“I’m sorry, Sica, for being so selfish,” Taeyeon said gently, pressing her lips against Jessica’s temple as she hugged the girl again.

 

“I love you.”

 

Three simple words. Three words which brought out the true emotions of the couple. It made Jessica sob even harder and Taeyeon to start tearing.

 

“People are starting to give us weird looks. Let’s go home,” Taeyeon urged, holding back her tears. She slowly rose from her kneeling position and lifted Jessica up by her arms.

 

“Home?” Jessica asked, her question filled with uncertainty. She was still in shock at Taeyeon’s return.

 

“Yes, home, silly girl. Our home. Let’s start all over again,” Taeyeon held Jessica’s hand tightly.

 

A wide smile finally appeared on Jessica’s face when she allowed Taeyeon’s words to sink in.

 

“Home, where the heart belongs.”

 

= THE END = 

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